Many Southwest Florida businesses traditionally hit the brakes on their marketing plans during the summer.
Instead, they should be hitting the gas.
Year-round marketing, even in seasonal areas like Southwest Florida, is essential in generating year-round results. This will be especially true during the summer of 2021 as the region’s economy fires on all cylinders.
Small businesses that create and execute an integrated, strategic marketing plan will reap the rewards this summer.
First, it’s important to study the numbers. February data is an especially important benchmark because it’s considered the height of Florida’s tourist season.
Small businesses pay close attention to their own numbers, like sales revenue, payroll expenses and web traffic. It’s also important to study data from the greater community. Heading into summer 2021, Southwest Florida businesses have every reason to be optimistic. Here are three statistics worth celebrating:
(1) Unemployment rate
While local economies are struggling in some parts of America, Southwest Florida’s economy is booming. Across the five-county region, the unemployment rate was 3.9% in February 2021, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. That‘s just slightly higher than the 3.2% rate from February 2020, right before the pandemic. By comparison, the national unemployment rate was 6.6% in February 2021.
What the numbers mean: The vast majority of Southwest Florida’s working-age population is gainfully employed. That means they have income to spend at local retail stores, restaurants and attractions. They can afford to tackle home improvement projects and hire contractors or service professionals.
Passenger data from Southwest Florida International Airport showed six consecutive months of increased traffic heading into February, when 725,735 passengers traveled through RSW. Meanwhile, hotel occupancy rates soared to pre-pandemic levels even as average nightly rates increased. During the first quarter of 2021, Florida emerged as America’s hotspot for leisure travel. National media and political figures often referred to Florida’s business and tourist economy as being “open.” Fueled by the vaccine rollout and stimulus checks, seasonal residents, families and spring breakers flocked to Southwest Florida.
What the numbers mean: There’s no reason to believe positive tourism trends will change in the coming months. Summer travel is typically fueled by family vacations and sports tourism. National amateur sports organizations like Perfect Game and USSSA are hosting additional summer events throughout the region.
(3) Real estate market
Southwest Florida’s real estate market is sizzling. In February 2021, the median sales price for single-family homes in Lee County was $330,000, according to the Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association. That represents a 22.2% increase over the median a year ago. Homes also are selling quicker. In February 2021, Lee County had just a one-month supply of housing inventory. By comparison, the inventory buildup was nearly six months a year ago.
What the numbers mean: More homes in Southwest Florida are occupied by couples and families. That gives businesses a larger potential pool of customers and clients.
In seasonal markets, there are periods when businesses see fewer customers coming through the door. That means fewer products flying off the shelves and fewer dollar bills finding their way into cash registers. As a result, some Southwest Florida businesses curtailed their marketing and advertising budgets during the summer. In fact, they should have been doing the opposite.
Today, Southwest Florida is the year-round home for 1.3 million people. Add visitors to the mix, and the region’s summer population rivals that of a mid-sized metropolis. The period from May through October is no longer “off season” in Southwest Florida. For summer 2021, businesses can focus their marketing campaigns on three distinct audiences:
(1) Long-time residents: Repeat customers keep companies in business. Local customers also serve as brand ambassadors, bringing in family and friends, posting favorable reviews on social media and sharing recommendations. In many cases, customers are the best marketers for a business.
(2) New residents: As mentioned above, Southwest Florida is experiencing an influx of people buying homes here. Some lived elsewhere within Florida; others are coming from the North and Midwest. They don’t yet have a favorite local restaurant, doctor, craft brewery, barber, jeweler or bank. Marketing helps introduce businesses to new customers.
(3) Visitors: The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau surveys Southwest Florida travelers. Visitors choose this region because it’s peaceful, has warm weather and is a safe destination. Generally, their trips last from one to seven days. Tourists have limited time, but successful marketing can still bring them through the front door.
Successful Marketing and Advertising
Much like investing in the stock market, it’s important for businesses to diversify their marketing campaigns. No single marketing strategy will reach all potential target audiences.
To achieve marketing success, businesses can consider summer marketing and advertising in:
- Newspapers: reaches both print and digital readership
- Magazines: reaches a highly targeted audience
- Television: reaches viewers at all periods of the day
- Radio: reaches listeners driving in cars, in the office or at a business
- Digital marketing: reaches consumers online and on their cellphones
- Social media: reaches users already in the area and those planning a visit
- Collateral (brochures): reaches those actively browsing for information
- Email: reaches a database of customers, clients, vendors and influencers
- Direct mail: reaches specific ZIP codes and neighborhoods based on market studies
- Billboards: reaches tens of thousands of motorists who travel a route each day
Don’t know where to start? Priority Marketing’s full-service Media Buying Department negotiates and purchases traditional and emerging media in local, regional and national markets.
Businesses that elevate their marketing campaigns during the summer see multiple benefits. For one, there is less competition, so advertisements are more likely to be noticed. Also, media are more willing to negotiate discounts to fill pages or broadcasts.
Summertime marketing is always essential, but 2021 is shaping up to be a blockbuster summer for businesses in Southwest Florida.
Are you ready to elevate your brand this summer? Call Priority Marketing today at 239-267-2638 or send an email to info@PriorityMarketing.com.